A study conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health indicates that women with higher levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in their blood took longer to become pregnant than those with lower levels.
The study defined infertility as taking longer than 12 months to become pregnant or requiring medical treatment to achieve pregnancy. Women who carried a relatively high level of PFC compounds in their blood were correspondingly more likely to experience infertility- anywhere from 60% to 154% more likely. These women with higher levels of exposure also tended to report irregular menstrual cycles, suggesting that PFC exposure may have an effect on reproductive homones.
PFCs are man-made chemicals used as stain-and grease-proof coatings on fabrics, food packaging, carpets, and cookware. They also appear in some water supplies and in personal care products such as dental floss and shampoo.
PFCs are everywhere and they never go away. Extremely stable compounds, PFCs never break down, causing them to accumulate in the environment and in our bodies. They have been linked to cancers, birth defects, and low birth weights. Tranferrable from mother to child via the placenta, PFCs also contribute to the chemical burden of newborns; brand new babies carry PFC compounds in their umbilical cord blood.
Is it even possible to avoid PFCs? There are some ways to limit your exposure.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends the following measures to limit PFC exposure:
- stop using Teflon-coated and other non-stick pans
- refuse the option of stainguard coatings on furniture and carpeting
- do not purchase “stain-resistant” or “stain-free” clothing
- avoid pre-packaged foods, especially greasy fast foods and microwave popcorn.
If you are striving to beome pregnant or to have an eco-pregnancy you should do all you can to avoid PFCs. But I think we should all work to limit our exposure, and put pressure on chemical companies to limit production of perfluorinated chemicals.
PFCs are a chemical burden that we carry all our lives- a burden that we pass, unwillingly, onto our children. I think someone should shoulder the responsibility for alleviating that burden.